Title : Serving Crazy with Curry
Author : Amulya Malladi
Its the third book I'm readingof Amulya Malladi's,the other two being The Mango Season and A Breath of Fresh Air. One thing is obvious that some writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, V S Naipaul and now Amulya Malladi can never stop themselves from writing their immigrant experiences about the Indians moving to US and trying hard to adapt there. Also another obvious thing is her love for food which became evident through the recipes she writes between chapters just as she penned various Mango dishes in The Mango Season. I read of this book in particular on one of my favorite food blogs Monsoon Spice.
This book talks specifically of Devi Veturi and in general of Veturi household who are Indians staying in US Bay area. Devi has been quite unsuccessful in her life with respect to love, career, relationships and tries to commit suicide and is being saved by the person she resents the most i.e. her mother Saroj. After this "incident" she is forced to move in with her parents and under their constant vigilance she stops talking and takes up cooking which has been very alien to her. Everyone in the house is quite appalled by this but as she has been the suicide escapist, they do not want to say anything to her. She cooks food based on her mood. She makes hot, smoky, spicy food when she is really angry whereas churns out desserts when she is happy. Yes!! I know that sounds interestingly weird.
She tries to take control of the kitchen which has been under sole supervision of her mother Saroj who reminded me of stereotypical South Indian/Punjabi mother in Indian soaps/films and I could totally imagine Kirron Kher from Dostana playing this role. She is like the typical, constantly nagging Indian housewife who is struggling to adapt to US lifestyle and would wish to go back to stay in India at the drop of a hat. Through cooking, Devi secretly triumphs in empowering her mother's ways. She begins to appreciate all that Saroj has been doing for her.
Then there is one-armed, ex-army man Avi who is always supportive of his daughter Devi, the career-oriented, totally opposite in polarity with Devi, her sister Shobha and her husband Girish who all try to do the best they can to ensure that she finds peace within. Overall the family is quite psyche and never in my life would I want to be part of such a household who secretly resent themselves in every possible way they can. But the "incident" as a whole, tries to bring them as a close knit family. The book is quite predictable. There is one more secret that Devi hides within which is revealed in the mid of the book but surely you can guess about it by the way the characters behave in the story.
The only sane person in the whole story is Devi's grandmother Vasu who is a strong-willed woman who has lived her life in her own terms never once bothering about what the society thinks or talks of her. She is very close to Devi who shares most of her secrets with Vasu who is also quite terrified by the "incident". She is not in good terms with the loud Saroj who is quite disturbed and thinks that Vasu doesn't love her enough. In general, all the characters are trying hard to be loved by everyone and I believe the secret dislike and resentment is due to this.
It was an ordinary immigrant experience kind of read which I cannot say I thoroughly enjoyed. But I liked the various recipes the author has penned down and also the last section where there is an imaginary interview Malladi has with her characters in the book. That piece was much more interesting and creative than the book. I would suggest it for a casual, weekend read but not for those who love serious stuff.
Rating: 2.5/5 (OK once in a while for non-serious stuff readers)